noyé/e/ and vərˈbādəm (Simon Renaud/ Project: Humanity) 2016 SummerWorks Review

Photo of Noye at the 2016 SummerWorks Performance FestivalPlaying first in a SummerWorks dance double bill with vərˈbadəm, noyé/e/ is a collection of contemporary duets that beautifully explores the feelings of longing, desire, connection, and oneness. Creator Simon Renaud and Performer Joanie Audet test the limits of space and balance with their slow but emotionally-fraught choreography.

We gathered around a similarly-clad Renaud and Audet sitting across from each other with a laptop and speakers in between. This idea of mirror-imaging persists throughout their performance and eventually evolves into feats of balance. The movements evoke a longing for togetherness, and every moment they do not touch each other seem to incur an emotional cost. Even when their limbs are apart, Renaud and Audet’s movements still compliment one another in the same tempo.

noyé/e/ is a truly sensational dance piece and I was incredibly moved by it. Although the movements are agonizingly measured, there is this captivating intensity in the performances that constantly drew me in, and the music — a mix between French standards and classical compositions — perfectly accompanies the simmering emotional intensity of the dancers and the choreography. At the end of the performance I felt almost as emotionally spent as the dancers.

Photo of Verbatim from the 2016 SummerWorks Performance Festival.

With vərˈbadəm, Choreographer Catherine Murray wanted  to investigate the intersections between movement, language, and social justice. Using text from interviews conducted with young mothers at Jessie’s (The June Callwood Centre for Young Women), dancers explore the multiple ways movement can be used to enhance or interpret text-based material.

The choreography of vərˈbadəm, mostly set to clips from an interview conducted at Jessie’s, is more lyrical than what I saw in noyé/e/. The dancers play with mainly two ways of working with text. They first demonstrates a series of movements that corresponded with the sound of words and later mix those sequences with a more fluid interpretation of the meaning of the text.

Although I did not feel vərˈbadəm as viscerally as I did noyé/e/, I still enjoyed the performance. The structure of the show and the choreography is remarkably clear, and I thought the unison work was particularly breathtaking. I also really appreciated that they included an interview with Murray reflecting on the positive and possibly negative impacts her process has on the subjects of her work.

The one thing that bothered me about vərˈbadəm however is that I wished the dancers were more facially expressive. I’m not a person who want dancers to smile all the time, but I do find that I am more emotionally engaged when performers look like they’re emotionally connecting with their movements.

Regardless,  noyé/e/ and vərˈbadəm are both incredibly strong, thoughtful pieces that make up an impressive double bill well worth your time.


noyé/e/ plays in a double bill with vərˈbādəm. noyé/e/ plays first at the Factory Theatre Rehearsal Hall followed by vərˈbādəm in the Factory Theatre Mainspace (125 Bathurst Street).

Show times:

  • Sunday August 14th, 12:00 PM – 1:30 PM

Individual SummerWorks tickets are $15 at the door (cash only). Tickets are available online at, by phone at 416-320-5779 and in person at the SummerWorks Central Box Office – located at Factory Theatre (125 Bathurst St). Open August 2-14 from 10am-7pm. Cash and credit accepted. (Advance tickets are $15 + service fee.)

Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 3 shows.

Images provided by SummerWorks.